Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Oct 6 2015 21:52:53

The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep

By: Ina Steiner

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Reddit hosted a former Amazon Seller Support rep in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session over the weekend. Reddit user Formersesu began the IAmA session with the following introduction: "I worked at a Seller Support location in the US for almost two years and left about three months ago. I am not an official spokesperson and my opinion in no way reflect the position of the company. I no longer work in Seller Support, but am now in a different role supporting Amazon's 3P sellers. AMA!"

The top five questions (as rated by participants) were the following:

1) In your experience, do you feel the Amazon is sometimes unjustified in suspending and banning sellers? It is something most of us are terrified of.

2) What should 3rd party sellers avoiding doing which pisses off seller support? What should we be doing instead?

3) Would I be jeopardizing my selling account if I took advantage of someone's repricer, drove their price down and bought out their inventory? I've never found a straight answer on this, even after asking seller support. I've never dared to pull that trigger because I love selling on Amazon too much and don't want to lose the privilege.

4) What are the top three things that get people's accounts suspended and what can be done to prevent it?

5) I realize this may not be directly related to your previous job description but maybe you can provide some insight. Are suspensions triggered primarily by bots? 

Sellers are incredibly concerned about suspensions, as the questions show, something we took a look at last month when Amazon confirmed it uses bots to identify potential customer issues.

So what were some of the most egregious things Formersesu had seen sellers do? 

"Oh dear... send images as proof that are blatantly photoshopped or the first hit on Google Reverse Image search. Start swearing at us or calling us names in emails. Being incredibly rude to their own customers in the buyer-seller messages and then complaining about how Seller Support provides bad service (I always point out the irony). The worst one I saw was during Christmas, sellers buy their competitor's inventory with an invalid credit card. This tied up their inventory and redirected traffic. That said, we're constantly improving the integrity of the transactions so don't get any ideas."

What about the Buy Box?

"Oh god. The Buy Box. I knew it was coming. There is no special answer. The Buy Box winner is generated by an algorithm and multiple factors are taken into account. There are likely hundreds, if I had to guess, and they change daily. It really is complicated and completely privileged information. I mentioned in a previous post, but listing your item's MSRP and your price below increases your chances of winning the Buy Box. Other than that, there are no special tricks other than keep your account health in good shape, use FBA and set competitive prices. 

"I'll also add that Seller Support cannot make changes so seriously don't even ask. A better question is, "Do you have any tips on how I can win the Buy Box?" There is tribal knowledge picked up. I met with a program manager for a specific category a couple months ago who mentioned changes for said category. I can't mention it here, but whenever I got information like this, I would always strongly encourage sellers to take a specific action without sharing too much."

And how does Amazon view sellers shipping from China?

"Amazon is a global company and China is a big market that comes with its own issues that are different from sellers residing in the US and probably obvious - higher potential for counterfeits, language barriers, etc. Amazon responded by providing support in Mandarin and if the data supports the decision, I image it would only expand. Seller Support was definitely annoyed at the language and cultural barriers with this customer base, but there wasn't really a solution that didn't require a large process to scale."

We've got more in Wednesday's newsletter, let us know what you think of this Amazon AMA.




Comments (12) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep   The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep

by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 6 23:12:29 2015

About as clear and coherent as the answers I get from Seller Support.... I read nothing there of any benefit.  

Perminate Link for The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep   The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 7 00:46:47 2015

I know someone who got suspended the first day they signed up.

Amazon is NOT the answer to ebay. They both are idiotic

Perminate Link for The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep   The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep

by: shut1968 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 7 09:35:14 2015

As usual.. Bow down to the Amazon God we control your business, if you don't like it leave.

Perminate Link for The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep   The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Oct 7 09:51:20 2015

Let's not "piss" off the gods and goddesses of seller support.  :)

Perminate Link for The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep   The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep

by: Garcia This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 8 00:21:34 2015

It is no different on any online site.  Etsy is the same with almost a complete lack of seller support or useful responses if they do reply. There is no online selling site where sellers are given the consideration they feel they deserve.

Perminate Link for The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep   The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 8 07:25:46 2015

I thought the reasons they suspended sellers was quite fair.  Especially when you start screaming and yelling at seller support - who needs that aggravation at work?  What there should be is an "escalation" of problem to a supervisor if someone is going to be suspended.
I visit the forums a lot and there are quite a lot of suspended accounts.  But the owners have to wait a period before being reinstated.  If you own a retail business and you depend on AMZ (or EB) as your SOLE method of selling then there's something wrong with you.

Perminate Link for The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep   The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 8 09:08:38 2015

How is suspension fair when its doled out by a shoddy algorithm

Perminate Link for The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep   The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Thu Oct 8 10:13:02 2015

As an Amazon seller for around 15 years, I do not live in fear of being suspended, because of stories I've read about others that were. I just try to deliver the best customer service and the best product possible and do my best to help keep the catalog for my niches as correct as possible.

It seems that over the years as I have read this digest, sellers live in fear of PP grabbing their money, even if it never has, being suspended for 'doing nothing wrong', etc. You can either live in fear and I think many that do are walking a fine line between do things right or not. If you want a site that is swift to suspend, try ecrater, but every act of suspension I have seen there in 8 years has been for cause. I can't believe that Amazon is willy-nilly suspending good productive sellers than is making them money.

That being said, absolutely have more than one venue to sell on! A major glitch in anyone's venue can leave you with no sales or hopes of them until the glitch is repaired if that is your only venue.

Perminate Link for The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep   The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep

This user has validated their user name. by: laurengrace

Thu Oct 8 23:44:50 2015

This was a waste of time with the "seller support" handing out large glasses of the Kool Aid

Perminate Link for The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep   The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep

by: Bidonmine This user has validated their user name.

Fri Oct 9 15:05:45 2015

To me, this statement was on to live by (and I do live by it on Amazon):

''The rule for surviving on Amazon seemed to be - when in doubt, don't do it.''

I have followed these rules:
Don't list items that you would not want to receive. Do not list items above their condition (it is better to take one step down). Don't list items that would be classified as Good or worse. Read the listing-condition guidlines and follow them. Even though most buyers ignore it, Use the description field.
Be sure to read ALL the bulletins and changes that Amazon makes (easy to find on Seller Central). Read the Amazon seller blogs every day (or two) to keep up with problems other people are having so you do not make the same mistake... And above all... When in Doubt... List it somewhere else (or take it to a flea market).

Perminate Link for The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep   The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep

by: Bidonmine This user has validated their user name.

Fri Oct 9 15:07:07 2015

Oh, yes... For ALL used items, include a photo.

Perminate Link for The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep   The Lowdown on Amazon Suspensions from Ex Support Rep

by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Fri Oct 9 18:52:50 2015

@ Bidonmine
''And above all... When in Doubt... List it somewhere else (or take it to a flea market).''

Agree completely. Since I am 98%+ FBA I do send the junk in to Amazon and let them ship it when I sell it elsewhere. Just set the listing up to never appear for sell on Amazon.  



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